Its official: The holiday season is upon us. As usual, theres a hot gift. But I dont ever recall witnessing that gift divide so many households.
Is this the year to get the kid an iPad?
A recent Nielsen survey of kids ages 6 to 12 found that approximately half the children surveyed expressed interest in the full-sized iPad (up from 44 percent last year), and 36 percent in the new iPad Mini.
Whether Santa or his parental minions will deliver an iPad is another matter.
That debate has many variables: a childs age, his aptitude with computers and trustworthiness; a parents disposable income and her attitude toward electronic media.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.
The other side of this modern coin is anxiety over lack of screen time. Im worried shell be the only one in her class who doesnt know how to use a computer, a friend of mine recently confided.
She and her husband had endured well without any gadgets, but for their daughter, they are contemplating making the purchase so she wont fall behind her peers.
Their daughter is 3.
Which brings up the age question.
In a supervised environment, children as young as four or five are able to engage in learning activities using smartphones and tablets of all kinds. In an unsupervised environment, I wouldnt recommend a smartphone or tablet purchase for a child until at least between the ages of 11 and 13, one expert told PBS.org.
For many families, that guidance is unrealistic.
The point of the tablets, after all, may be that the parents can check out for a few minutes while their child is entertained by an at least marginally educational app.
At a glanceApple products were four of the top five items children ages 6 to 12 listed when asked about what they were interested in buying in the next six months.
The top 10
iPad 48 percent
Nintendo Wii U 39 percent
iPod Touch 36 percent
iPad Mini 36 percent
iPhone 33 percent
Computer 31 percent
Kinect for Xbox 360 31 percent
Tablet other than iPad 29 percent
Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL 29 percent
Nintendo DS/DS Lite/DSi/DSi XL 28 percent